Property: SAPOA Urges Members to Fully Understand Latest EIA Regulatio
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According to Tsakane Shilubane, Legal Services Manager for SAPOA, “All stakeholders in property development need to be aware of changes and terminology that may affect them directly. Apart from new definitions, procedures and authorities, some changes will incur additional cost and may not necessarily translate to improved efficiency. Property owners are therefore urged to carefully study the new documents and ensure they understand exactly how changes will affect them.”
“This includes the Basic Assessment list, the proposed Scoping and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) list and the proposed list of prohibited activities. SAPOA has also singled out other provisions in the Draft EIA Regulations,” says Shilubane.
Says Richard Bennet, Chairman of the SAPOA National Developers Forum, “Activities listed in the proposed three Listing Notices have been amended to exclude certain activities that are currently listed, and that these will create significant administrative burdens in situations where it’s likely that the actual environmental impact is minimal.”
He cites the example of minor pipe installations which will oblige a basic assessment and environmental authorization before activity can take place. Furthermore, this only applies in certain areas. “Similarly, item 4, which refers to road construction, means that if road construction is to be undertaken in one of the identified areas, then environmental authorizations are required and if not in the area, authorization is not required,” he says.
The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), which has been signed into effect - but which has not yet commenced - also includes certain provisions that affect proposed changes to the regulatory regime and there are some important statutory amendments that need to be noted. Bennet says that some expressions have been broadened and there are also new definitions relevant to mining and related activities.
Section 24 contains significant changes, including new authority from the Minister of Minerals and Energy and many new definitions. One of the potential contentious additions deals with timeframes for competent authorities, which provides for an automatic deadline extension if not met. Furthermore, if still not met, it will be deemed that the environmental authorization has been granted. Bennet is concerned that deeming a grant by virtue of non performance by the competent authorities, may prove to be controversial. In terms of Section 25, Bennet is more positive. “We are satisfied with Section 25 and welcome this,” he says.
Certain requirements have been removed, such as some content for scoping reports, and other changes stipulate that the EIA report must contain ‘reasoned opinions’ to support authorization of an activity and a draft environmental management programme.
Property owners must also be mindful of proposed changes that will affect exemptions, as these are a significant departure from the way this is currently being handled, and may lead to controversy.
Neil Gopal CEO of SAPOA says that property owners need to carefully scrutinize new proposed Regulations, with a view to providing government with appropriate feedback when opportunities for this input exist.
“Property owners also need to be mindful of the changes in order to comply and in calculate new requirements, costs and time for any planned activity that falls within the scope of the regulations,” says Gopal.
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